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Chapter 2

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University of Toronto St. George
Lorne Tepperman

Soc 103 chapter 2 Functionalism - Malthus: while earth’s available food increases arithmetically, population increases geometrically (additive vs. exponential) o Growth in food supply is lower, and with an exponentially growing population , this is a threat to survival o He proposed that ‘checks’ would keep population growth in line with the food supply  Positive checks: increase death rate to prevent overpopulation (war, famine, disease)  Preventative check: limit number of live births (abortions, infacide, sexual abstinence) o He urges people to use preventative checks so that they won’t suffer if positive checks are used - Malthus’ argument was a recognizable piece of functional analysis. It asserts that nature will re-assert societal equilibrium in its own way unless humans take the initiative - Is Malthus right? Hard to put meaningful numbers on the world’s carrying capacity (# of people who can be supported by available resources at a given technology) o As technology improves, carrying capacity increases, feeding more people Critical theory’s approach to Malthus - Those who take critical theory approach always deny that a social equilibrium is attainable, or that any social arrangement will be an equal benefit for everybody. o People in power take actions that benefit themselves the most and support theories that justify their actions - We can’t take famine as a proof of overpopulation. developed nation pay farmers not to grow crops to keep the food prices in check - Poverty/inequality often causes problems that are similar to those cause by overpopulation and may also contribute to overpopulation o Peasant often produces a lot of children for their labor in the farm. They see no benefit in having fewer children - History shows that poor people have much to gain by reducing their fertility and much to lose by failing to do so. o In poorer nations, too many people isn’t the problem, it’s the lack of capital for industrialization, and lack of markets for their agricultural products - Many advocate zero population growth (# of birthrates = # of death rates) as a temporary solution for rapidly growing countries Functionalism - Some view social problems in the city as resulting from growth and specialization o E.g. more wealth = more theft, more population = intense competition for local resources o Others focus on these tendencies that promote social disorganization weak controls and consequent deviance/stress  In this perspective, social problems are foreseeable consequence of urbanization - City life is different from rural /small town life - Durkheim: common consciousness = small pre-industrial communities/ rural settlements in which members shared the same experience and develop similar values, norms, identity. Their lives are often interconnected, in a homogeneous social order (mechanical solidarity) o Industrial communities: inter-dependent, not necessarily intimate. Linked by organic solidarity, not self-sufficient, depends on each other for survival/prosperity Critical theory - They always ask whose interest are served by actions of the dominant groups in society and their ideologies - These theories attribute urban problems such as homelessness and poverty not by effects of size, variety and fluidity, but to the workings of capitalism o Unlike functionalist, they believe that solving urban problems require more than housing - The problem of cities is a problem of economic inequality. This distribution of wealth determines whether city dwellers will live/die, stay/leave.
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